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Meeke is happy to lap up his Rally Argentina favourite label

 

By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke has a special liking for Latin America. It was in Brazil that he won his first Intercontinental Challenge Rally and in Argentina he won his first World Championship round two years ago.

Then last month came his dramatic victory in Rally Mexico. Not surprisingly he is buoyed up for his return to Rally Argentina which began late last night with a street stage in Cordoba.

"This rally is also special for its atmosphere and the excitement - some might even call it craziness - of the crowds. As soon as you get off the plane, you can feel that people love motorsport," said the Ulsterman who is being quoted as rally favourite.

"Favourite? If that's what people are saying, I'll take that. I've every reason to feel confident.

"South America has been good to me and what with my win in Mexico, the way we dominated the first couple of days of the Tour de Corse and the work done in testing last week, I'm feeling good."

Citroen say they have identified the cause of Meeke's retirement from the lead in Corsica, a broken connector in the oil system resulting in engine failure. After extensive testing they are confident the problem has been rectified.

Meeke, who was also third on his only other appearance in Argentina in 2014, has Craig Breen as his team-mate this weekend, the two-time Circuit of Ireland winner new to the event.

He says he has had to prepare "extra hard" and has been leaning on Meeke's experience. "I've talked a lot to Kris about what to expect but in the end it will be down to me to do the best job I can."

There have been four different winners from four different manufacturers in the first four rounds this year - Sebastien Ogier (Ford), Jari Matti Latvala (Toyota), Meeke (Citroen) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) - as rallying's new era of more powerful cars sends interest soaring.

Now the rugged terrain of Argentina offers a fresh challenge to their durability as much as their speed.

Belfast Telegraph

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